If you love the great outdoors, you might be one of the millions of owners of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) worldwide. Also known as quad bikes, three-wheelers and four-wheelers, ATVs are small open vehicles with low-pressure tires, a handlebar and a straddle seat. Usually configured for a single person, ATVs are much easier to ride than motorcycles, thanks to their extra wheels. These vehicles are not street-legal, but are meant instead for off-road use, sometimes for work and always for fun.
The popularity of ATVs translates into annual U.S. sales of about 230,000 units, almost all four-wheel versions. The average price of an ATV is about $10,000, but there is a wide range of cheaper and more expensive models available for sale.
We have researched and reviewed the best methods for paying for an ATV. See the top options below.
Financing an ATV
If you don’t pay cash for your ATV, you can finance it in one of a few ways:
- Personal loan: You can arrange a personal loan from a bank, credit union, or online lender (direct or peer-to-peer). This is arguably the best way to pay for an ATV if you are eligible.
- Pros: Not collateralized, so your ATV won’t be repossessed for missing payments. Online matching services encourage competition among lenders that could result in a better deal.
- Cons: Can be the most expensive alternative. If you have a fair to poor credit score, you’ll have trouble accessing a personal loan, and if you do, you’ll be saddled with high interest rates.
- Consumer vehicle loan: An ATV dealer and/or manufacturer will offer credit to customers who meet the financial criteria. You can also apply at a bank or credit union for a vehicle loan.
- Pros: Dealer-arranged credit is often tied into special promotions, such as 0 percent interest for six months or no money down on the purchase. Some dealers offer third-party financing so you have a choice of lenders, which could save you money. Banks and credit unions normally have good rates, but banks often insist on an excellent credit rating.
- Cons: The financing is collateralized by the ATV, so failure to make payments could result in the repossession of the vehicle. Interest rates might be high if you have poor credit rating and/or you pay only the minimum amount each cycle.
- Commercial vehicle loan: The largest selling class of ATVs are the utility type that are used in business.
- Pros: Since it won’t add debt to your personal credit, your credit score should be unaffected. Establishing that the ATV is for business creates tax breaks.
- Cons: APRs can range up to 20 percent. Repossession is possible.
- Credit card: With prices starting around several thousand dollars, you can use your credit card to purchase an ATV, assuming you have a high enough credit line.
- Pros: Quick and easy transaction, doesn’t require any paperwork. If you have good credit, your interest rate will be quite reasonable. Some ATV makers offer their own co-branded credit cards with special low rates.
- Cons: If you don’t have a suitable card, it takes a while to get one, if you qualify. Cards for folks with low credit scores have high interest rates and low credit limits, if available at all.
Different Types of ATVs
There are many different types of ATVs to consider if you are in the market for one. We talk about each below:
- Sports ATVs: These are fast ATVs built for recreation and racing. They have engines ranging in size from 250cc to 700cc. Sports ATVs are lightweight, have rugged suspensions and are customizable in thousands of ways.
- Utility ATVs: The most popular type of ATVs, utility units are used in ranching, hunting and agriculture to handle many chores. They usually have large motors (up to 800cc) and short-travel suspensions to handle heavy loads. Quiet electric versions are favored by hunters.
- Youth ATVs: These small ATVs are for kids, even ones with little or no riding experience. They have tiny motors in the 50cc to 125cc range, limited suspensions at best, and either no gears at all or an automatic transmission.
- Side-by-Side ATVs: These vehicles resemble golf carts, albeit with sturdier suspensions and larger engines, up to 1,000cc. They can carry cargo or passengers with aplomb, thanks in part to their short wheelbases. Highly modified versions are used in fire, rescue and military applications.
About 10 ATV makers compete in the U.S., with sales dominated by John Deere, Yamaha, Honda and Polaris. Here are examples of ATVs from the Big Four:
- John Deere makes Gator traditional utility (starting price $6,969), high-performance utility ($12,299), military and crossover ($8,139) ATVs. All of their vehicles are side-by-sides. The RSX850i Sport high-performance ATV is the first such vehicle to receive a motorcycle engine – an 839cc v-twin motor with 62 horsepower, capable of 53 mph. It has four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel drive and disk brakes, with an MSRP of $14,699.
- Yamaha offers an extended line of sport, utility and side-by-side ATVs ranging in price from $2,100 to $10,900. One of its most popular models is the Kodiak 700 utility ATV selling for $7,000 and featuring a 708cc 4-stroke engine, automatic continuously variable suspension, compact chassis and heavy-duty tow capacity.
- Honda sells sport and recreational/utility ATVs priced from $3,000 to $9,300. The popular FourTrax Foreman 4×4 ($7,200) features a 475cc liquid-cooled engine, five-speed automatic transmission, electronic fuel injection and a front differential lock. The ES EPS variant of the Foreman adds electric power steering and electric shift program.
- Polaris offers three lines: Ranger Utility, Polaris General and Sportsman ATV, from a $2,100 Outlaw 50 youth ATV to $27,500 for a 4-seat model, the RZR XP Turbo EPS that features a 4-stroke DOHC twin cylinder turbocharged engine generating 168 horsepower, upgraded cooling system, internal bypass shocks and stabilizer bars.
*Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 9.34% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $319.58. LightStream disclosures here.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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